Nuclear Power: Yay or Nay? Watch

Poll: Nuclear Power: Yay or Nay?
Yay! (45)
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Okay... (10)
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Nay! (5)
8.2%
Eh? (1)
1.64%
Agent Smith
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#21
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#21
(Original post by Thud)
As long as we find a safe way to dispose of the waste, ensure that steps are taken to increase safety (I know it's already pretty safe and Chernobyl was due to the Soviet design of the reactor), why shouldn't we use nuclear power?
Yeah, a lot of people forget that - or never knew - and as a result, the single biggest icon for nuclear power in the public's mind is, unfortunately, bound up with images of a colossal explosion and birth defects across most of a reasonably-sized country.
In areas with a lot of sunlight solar panels can be used successfully, in areas with lots of wind, wind power can be implimented but I think it's an idea to have nuclear in other areas.
I really, really want to see a nuclear power station take advantage of Dave Cameron's proposed subsidies and put solar panels all over its cooling towers.
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Agamemnon
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#22
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#22
(Original post by Agent Smith)
A friend of mine is something of an authority on nuclear matters, and he assures me that simply burying nuclear waste isn't actually anything like as bad as it sounds. Unfortunately I can't remember the evidence he used to back this up, but I think it must have included something to do with the ability of rock/earth to stop radiation.

I'm sure it isn't, but I really feel that nuclear power should be phased out because of the waste generated by it, we're stuck with the stuff for hundreds of thousands of years, and i'm not sure it is always disposed of safely. I understand that it is a big gap to fill with alternatives, but still we should try.

For instance, there has been controversy over the plant in Sellafield. It did dump some of its waste in the Irish sea in the past, see the quote. We don't know how this will effect the food chain and so on. Also, you do find that people living near nuclear power plants, including Sellafield for instance, have a higher risk of cancer and so on.

(Original post by Wikipedia)
In the hasty effort to build the 'British Bomb' in the 1940s and 1950s, radioactive waste was diluted and discharged by pipeline into the Irish Sea. Some claim that the Irish Sea remains one of the most heavily contaminated seas in the world because of these discharges, although the relatively small size of the sea will also contribute to this. The OSPAR Commission reports an estimated 200 kg of plutonium has been deposited in the marine sediments of the Irish Sea.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellafield

Nuclear power shouldn't be portrayed as a perfect energy source as long as safety regulations are followed. Even if everything is done perfectly there are still many negative effects from them, as I have mentioned.

As for 'depleted' Uranium weapons, that should certainly be banned.
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Agent Smith
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#23
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#23
(Original post by Agamemnon)
I'm sure it isn't, but I really feel that nuclear power should be phased out because of the waste generated by it, we're stuck with the stuff for hundreds of thousands of years, and i'm not sure it is always disposed of safely. I understand that it is a big gap to fill with alternatives, but still we should try.
I'm not denying that, but it is the alternatives that should supplement nuclear power, not the other way round; otherwise we simply will not be able to produce enough power.
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john !!
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#24
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#24
yay because the pros stated above outweigh massively the cons (where not directly contradicting them with references sources)
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Dionysus
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#25
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#25
(Original post by Thud)
As long as we find a safe way to dispose of the waste, ensure that steps are taken to increase safety (I know it's already pretty safe and Chernobyl was due to the Soviet design of the reactor), why shouldn't we use nuclear power?

In areas with a lot of sunlight solar panels can be used successfully, in areas with lots of wind, wind power can be implimented but I think it's an idea to have nuclear in other areas.
That's the whole problem, there isn't one, but I still agree it is the only viable solution. Wind power etc is great, but it's only part of the solution. Short of covering the entire nation in wind farms, it won't generate enough power.
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Jonatan
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#26
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#26
(Original post by Agamemnon)
I'm sure it isn't, but I really feel that nuclear power should be phased out because of the waste generated by it, we're stuck with the stuff for hundreds of thousands of years, and i'm not sure it is always disposed of safely.
Oh for god's sake not again...

A)Our industry produce several orders of magnitude more chemical waste, and unlike radioactive waste, chemical waste doesn't decay with time. Compounds like Mercury, lead and arsenic will be around indefinitely.

B)The quantity of waste is ridiculously small. A 1 gigawatt power station operating for 1000 years would produce only 1000m^3 of spent fuel. As I mentioned before, a normal swimming pool can hold multiple times this amount.

C)Only a small fraction of the waste ( less than 1% ) actually needs to be stored for more than a thousand years, and it is perfectly possible to destroy this portion of the fuel. The concept has already been proven in research reactors around the world, and full commercial deployment is likely somewhere between 2020 and 2030.

As for the waste being taken care of properly. Yes, this is of course important and I would be strongly in favour of strict regulations of the facilities that deal with it.
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Agamemnon
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#27
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#27
(Original post by Jonatan)
Oh for god's sake not again...
What do you mean "not again"? Explain yourself. That's kind of a provocative way to start a post, maybe you should calm down?
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Agent Smith
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#28
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#28
(Original post by Jonatan)
C)Only a small fraction of the waste ( less than 1% ) actually needs to be stored for more than a thousand years, and it is perfectly possible to destroy this portion of the fuel. The concept has already been proven in research reactors around the world, and full commercial deployment is likely somewhere between 2020 and 2030.
Aha - I think that's what I, or rather the friend I was talking about, was getting at.
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Jonatan
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#29
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#29
(Original post by Agamemnon)
What do you mean "not again"? Explain yourself. That's kind of a provocative way to start a post, maybe you should calm down?
I attach the relevant diagram. Actinides is a very small component of nuclear waste, and they can readily be fissioned into fission products. As you can see, the 100.000 year figure is misleading at best, outright false at worst, yet it is being reiterated as truth over and over again. The vast majority of the spent fuel will be bellow natural uranium levels of radioactivity within 300 years. And the bits that won't can be converted to things that will.
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Arminius
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#30
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#30
I have to agree with johnatan. There is a great deal of ignorance on radioactivty and alot of scaremongering about it.

People get very scared about the tiniest bit of radiation from power plants (and they should have concern, fair enough) but people fail to realise that radiation is a fact of life. For example more radiation is released from coal power plants than nuclear reactors. (radioactive elements are contained in coal, higher than anything emitted into the environment by a nuclear power station).

People don't bat an eyelid about having an x-ray, or living in areas of the country with high levels of natural radium gas from the ground. All these will contribute much more to your exposure than nuclear power plants are responsible for.

Coupled with the right technology and strict guidelines nuclear power is actually much cleaner than fossil fuels. The volume of waste is negligble in comparison and the long lived waste can be sensibly safeguarded till it is fixed.
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Agamemnon
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#31
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#31
(Original post by Jonatan)
I attach the relevant diagram. Actinides is a very small component of nuclear waste, and they can readily be fissioned into fission products. As you can see, the 100.000 year figure is misleading at best, outright false at worst, yet it is being reiterated as truth over and over again.The vast majority of the spent fuel will be bellow natural uranium levels of radioactivity within 300 years. And the bits that won't can be converted to things that will. [/B]
Oh, I can understand your frustration. Thank you for the information.
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Mikesev
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#32
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#32
Short half life = bad. Long half life = good.

Glass it, put it in a drum, bury it in an old mine, problem solved. Lets not forget we dig the stuff out of the ground in the first place.
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ali567149
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#33
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#33
(Original post by Agent Smith)
I'm not denying that, but it is the alternatives that should supplement nuclear power, not the other way round; otherwise we simply will not be able to produce enough power.
so how do you explain Germany?
They are busy decommissioning Nuclear plants and will have none by 2030.
The fact is we are working to reduce energy consumption not stay at the same level...with a lower demand for power a centralised power grid makes no common sense. Localised production and use has to be the future for power in the uk, with the larger demands for power from what ramins of heavy industry perhaps met by nuclear.
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bikerx23
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#34
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#34
(Original post by ali567149)
so how do you explain Germany?
They are busy decommissioning Nuclear plants and will have none by 2030.
The fact is we are working to reduce energy consumption not stay at the same level...with a lower demand for power a centralised power grid makes no common sense. Localised production and use has to be the future for power in the uk, with the larger demands for power from what ramins of heavy industry perhaps met by nuclear.
Sorry, you're advocating a system with a lack of energy contingency? How is that exactly a good idea?

Also - considering britains huge reliance upon fossil fuels for producing energy, it is very illogical to recommend we attempt to continue this at a local level - renewable sources of energy such as wind would simply not be possible due to key sites being located in remote locations.
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ali567149
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#35
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#35
(Original post by bikerx23)
Sorry, you're advocating a system with a lack of energy contingency? How is that exactly a good idea?
how is it a bad idea? If all new buildings have to have intergrated energy generation capacity essentially you cant fail. If you take the example of private wire in woking town centre where by the local grid is more efficent cost effective and reliable than the old national one.

(Original post by bikerx23)
Also - considering britains huge reliance upon fossil fuels for producing energy, it is very illogical to recommend we attempt to continue this at a local level - renewable sources of energy such as wind would simply not be possible due to key sites being located in remote locations.
Right...you realise that they (wind turbines) are located in remote locations because of the economic forces implemented by the NFFO policy of the tories back in 1991, in a economically fair world they would be closer to civilisation.

Any how who mentioned wind power. when you look at other sources such as geothermal, solar, biomass, biogass etc. there are many alternative fuel supplies for domestic and business use that can be implemented today.
for example it is possiable to build off grid homes at little extra finincial cost than the substandard modern rubbish barrat homes for example build!
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Arminius
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#36
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#36
(Original post by ali567149)
how is it a bad idea? If all new buildings have to have intergrated energy generation capacity essentially you cant fail. If you take the example of private wire in woking town centre where by the local grid is more efficent cost effective and reliable than the old national one.
I'm afraid doing that with renewables is pretty much impossible for anything other than the most energy efficient home. You may be able to run the lights and use natural passive system for ventilation etc but the power needed to run machinery, like washing machines, tvs, computers etc is just much more than a little wind turbine or an array of photovoltaics on a single building could manage. What you suggest is a nice idea but is just not practical to produce enough energy by renewables in that space.

Right...you realise that they (wind turbines) are located in remote locations because of the economic forces implemented by the NFFO policy of the tories back in 1991, in a economically fair world they would be closer to civilisation.
Not sure about that, but the main reasons that wind farms are outside of cities and often offshore is simply because thats the most efficient place to put them. I.e the windiest places.

Any how who mentioned wind power. when you look at other sources such as geothermal, solar, biomass, biogass etc. there are many alternative fuel supplies for domestic and business use that can be implemented today.
for example it is possiable to build off grid homes at little extra finincial cost than the substandard modern rubbish barrat homes for example build!
I think you raise a good point, kinda. The government should put in place much stricter energy efficiency building regulations. Current standards are simply not good enough.

tbh the government is not that interested in these issues, they are merely interested in the green vote. They know that people are usually more motivated by price of a house and availability than how sustainable it is.
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Dionysus
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#37
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#37
I fully agree that all new buildings should have solar panels and wind turbines. Possibly in the future they could have Hydrogen generation stations for filling up cars. Ideally they should be self-sufficient. In the meantime, though, nuclear power remains a necessary evil. These changes can't be made overnight.
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Jonatan
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#38
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#38
(Original post by Mikesev)
Short half life = bad. Long half life = good.

Glass it, put it in a drum, bury it in an old mine, problem solved. Lets not forget we dig the stuff out of the ground in the first place.

Not quite as simple I'm afraid. The stuff we dig out of the ground is mainly Uranium-238 which has a very long half life ( and is thus only moderately radioactive ). In comparison some of the actinides have half lives of "only" a few thousand years, meaning they will be significantly mroe radioactive than uranium for several millennia. The reason this is NOT a problem is that they compose a fairly low proportion of the spent fuel, and also because they are heavy atoms which can be recycled as nuclear fuels ( thus resulting in waste which decays to safe levels much quicker ). So while it is true that the half life is directly linked to the radioactivity, you need to specify that very little of the waste has intermediate half-lives. I.e, it is more like this:

short half lives: good
medium half lives: bad
long half-lives: good

I.e, the stuff with short half lives decays quickly and thus isn't a problem. The stuff with long half-lives isn't much more radioactive than the ground itself, and is thus not a problem, but the things with intermediate half-lives is both radioactive enough to be a problem, and long lived enough that it is difficult to store. It is a fortunate coincidence that the fission products belong to either the very short lived or very long lived isotopes, and thus the waste problem is solvable. Had the fission products had half-lives in the regime of 5000-20000 years nuclear waste would be a major problem, but fortunately virtually all of them have half lives which are either less than 30 years or more than 100.000 years, and thus the issue can be solved by using the actinides ( that have intermediate half-lives ) as nuclear fuels, producing only fission products as waste.
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Mad Vlad
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#39
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#39
(Original post by Agamemnon)
I understand that it is a big gap to fill with alternatives, but still we should try.
Good intentions won't keep the lights on.

I'm staunchly Pro-Nuclear as there really isn't a significant downside. I don't consider the "waste issue" much of a problem, simply because of the volumes of the waste actually vitrified and stored and the technologies used and being developed to minimise the waste produced.

Energy companies are just building renewables because of perks from the government and offering a service to moralistic twits who think they're "saving the environment" by buying electricity from ethical sources (whilst summarily getting raped in the wallet for the privilage.)

Local generation simply doesn't work. You'd need to plaster your roof with solar panels and a windmill somewhat larger than David Cameron's failed attempt to be completely energy self sufficient - not to mention the hideous carbon footprint and £ note cost of doing it.

Nuclear is abundant, very clean and VERY safe. As Jonatan said - Sandia national laboratories have been pissing about throwing fully laden jumbo jets at mock ups of containment buildings and the contents of the containment building not taking a scratch. All the media hype about plants being huge terrorist targets is a complete nonsense. The WHO have also recently confirmed that Chernobyl was nowhere near as bad as was first thought - up to 4000 eventually dying of conditions which could be attributed to exposure to radiation, and when you consider that over half of those were people who attended the disaster, unaware of the dangers, and with the Ukranian government making a total hash of the whole thing, is it any wonder that the clean up has been so diabolical? (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/.../en/index.html)

Regardless, "Chernobyl" could never happen in the UK. I've seen how these reactors work in practice and their safety is controlled by autonomous computer systems. A significant failure or anomaly would just trigger an automatic shutdown of the plant.

I'd happily live next door to a Nuclear Power Plant and I hope that, until fusion power becomes commercially viable, we stop farting about with rediculous notions of destroying hectares of picturesque countryside and scenery all for the sake of putting up ugly, noisy, effectively useless wind turbines and see that the real answer for the next 20-30 years is nuclear energy.
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Jonatan
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#40
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#40
(Original post by ali567149)
so how do you explain Germany?
They are busy decommissioning Nuclear plants and will have none by 2030.
The fact is we are working to reduce energy consumption not stay at the same level...with a lower demand for power a centralised power grid makes no common sense. Localised production and use has to be the future for power in the uk, with the larger demands for power from what ramins of heavy industry perhaps met by nuclear.
News flash, physics is NOT commons sense, it is in fact rather complicated ( which is why you need to study a bit to get a degree in it ). I'm a little to drunk at the moment to argue my point in detail, but suffice to say is that Germany's policy of decommissioning their perfectly usable reactors ( which cost them quite a bit to build I might add ) is absolutely utterly insane, and it is based on pure political populism rather than real science. De-centralised power productions sounds like a beautiful romantic goal, until you realise that small-scale wind turbines and solar panels are really rather ****, compared to the larger versions.

No, really, if you are absolutely going to go for wind power ( even thou it has a variable power output, unstable and unpredictable supply, high price as per kwh, and a range of other problems ) you should at least go with the most efficient type of wind power, and this happens to be fairly large turbines, and not roof-mounted tiny ones. No really, I'm not just talking out of my arse, a wind turbine's efficiency is limited by the aero dynamics of the propeller, and very simply put for any given area of propeller there is a maximum amount of energy output possible ( from purely physical fluid dynamic considerations, but there are engineering limits as well ) and the only feasible way to increase this output without changing the size of the propeller is to put the turbine in a location with more favourable wind conditions. Because these locations do not in general coincide with populated areas ( sometimes they do, but far from always ) the most efficient way to reduce the ohmic and capacitive losses in the electric distribution net is to transmit the energy using very high voltage ( high voltage gives a low current for the same electric power and thus lower ohmic losses ). As it happens, to extract large amounts of energy at a high voltage you need a fairly large turbine. In fact, the larger the better. At the moment this is limited by the materials used to construct the turbine, but basically , an efficient turbine looks something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:E...opfinsel01.jpg
(Note that the image is from Germany, which you praise for it's wind power generation).

As for solar. Well, solar heating has some niche application (like in satellites where you don't want to go refuel a power plant ), but photo-voltaic for electricity generation is easily described with 4 letters c-r-a-p. Even at 100% efficiency ( which is physically impossible anyway, but never mind that ) a solar cell cannot output more energy than comes in to begin with, and this depends on the climate and weather. It can sort of work for some applications in Germany (thou wind power would produce more energy for the same price ), but for a country with England's climate it is simply a moronic idea. To deploy an electricity generation scheme with an output dependant on sunlight in a country famous for fog and rainfall is quite simply bad bad idea. Heck, in either case, if you wanted to use renewable energy sources, solar power is so expensive (as calculated in life-cycle costs) that you are better of using wind-power anyway.

So in summary, I could maybe, maybe see a case for using wind power for electricity generation, but it would definitely be with large efficient turbines rather than tiny ones, and solar power is just a bad idea since the money would be better spent on ANY other energy source, including rather pricey wind turbines. I'm fairly convinced judging from how you usually argue when this topic is brought up, that your opinion is more based on political ideology (i.e big centralised companies are evil, small individual generation is good ) than actual consideration of the feasibility of what you advocate. Incidentally there is one case where de-centralised generation can improve efficiency, and this is with de-centralised FOSSIL FUEL burner. The reason for this is that a fossil fuel generating plant wastes quite a bit of it's energy output as heat, but if you have it de-centralised you can use that heat to keep your house warm in district heating schemes. In general, however, there is NO inherent reason why de-centralised power generation shoudl be more efficient than centralised production. In contrast, because of various factors ( like the case with wind turbines I mentioned above ) larger plants can be built to be far more efficient ( due to economics of scale and a number of physical reasons, like favourable surface/area ratios for advanced power turbines ) and only the distribution is a side effect ( and the impact of this only about 10% on average anyway ).

But please, let me hear why centralised power production "makes no common sense". After posting here for almost half a year the best you have come up with is "it is less efficient" which quite simply isn't true for reasons I have outlined above. Really, if you know of any counter-intuitive reason why small-scale generation is more efficient, beyond the small amount of energy lost in the power grid, do tell me, because I sure haven't heard about it despite following this debate quite thoroughly.
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